Best Movies by Farr
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The Insect Woman Poster
Released Runtime Category
1963 123 Drama, Foreign Language
Director Language
Shohei Imamura Japanese
Kazuo Kitamura, Sachiko Hidari, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Tani Kitabayashi

The Insect Woman

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What's it About

In 1918 Tome (Hidari) is born to working class parents in rural Japan. As she grows up she endures an inappropriate relationship with her stepfather Chuji (Kitamura). During the war she works in a factory, but is summoned home and offered to the family’s landlord. She is impregnated and has a child, Nobuko (Yoshimura). Returning to the city she ends up working as a prostitute, and finally takes over the brothel through opportunistic ingenuity.

Why we love it

Imamura’s survey of the bleak life of one Japanese woman begins with a close-up shot of a beetle toiling up a mound of dirt. Like that beetle, Tome battles and endures in a cyclical existence that is destined to repeat itself in her daughter. Imamura marks the passage of time with freeze frames, further accentuating a feeling of non-judgmental observation. Cinematographer Shinsaku Himeda’s canvas teems with busy life as Tome’s maturation parallels Japan’s evolution from a rural to an industrialized society. Oddly uplifting despite the subject matter, Imamura’s Tome is a paragon of survival and adaptation. Don’t swat this “Insect.”

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The Insider

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"